Matthew track uncertain

Published 9:56 pm Monday, October 3, 2016

A hurricane that has already proven itself deadly is preparing to churn toward the East Coast, but there is still a lot of uncertainty on how much, if at all, it will affect Suffolk.

Hurricane Matthew is an extraordinarily dangerous Category 4 hurricane. The National Hurricane Center on Monday afternoon acknowledged the threat to the East Coast.

“While there remains significant uncertainty in the track of Matthew in the long range, the threat to Florida and the southeastern U.S. coast has increased,” the hurricane center said in a statement issued at 5 p.m. Monday.


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Alec Butner, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wakefield, said the effects of the storm could reach Suffolk by midday or later on Saturday and continue through the night into Sunday, assuming it reaches Suffolk at all.

“The cone of uncertainty when we’re at five days out is pretty much gigantic,” he said Monday. However, the storm has been tracking more to the west, bringing it closer to the coast, he noted.

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start thinking about getting yourself prepared, just in case it does have more of an impact on us,” he said.

Matthew is expected to cross parts of Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas before affecting the United States. Interacting with that land will weaken the storm somewhat, but it has an opportunity to become stronger again before hitting the East Coast.

The storm already has claimed four lives. Two fishermen died in Haiti on Monday, while one person in Colombia and one person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an island nation off the northeastern coast of South America, died as a result of the storm earlier in its path.

Butner said all the rain Hampton Roads has seen in recent weeks does not bode well if the hurricane heads this way.

“The ground is pretty soft now with all the rain, so with any wind, we could start seeing trees (falling) and issues with that,” he said.

City spokeswoman Diana Klink said the Department of Emergency Management is keeping top city officials informed of Matthew’s track and potential effects for Suffolk.

“As with any severe weather situation, departments are making the essential advance preparations and taking the necessary precautions in dealing with this weather event,” she said.

The National Hurricane Center cautioned that impacts on land are possible, even if the center of the storm remains off the coast.

“At a minimum, very dangerous beach and boating conditions are likely along much of the U.S. East Coast later this week and weekend,” the center stated.